Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Apparently Iberian Airlines)???/Reflections…

At about 2 a.m. Sunday morning, I finally made it to back to the RDU (Raleigh-Durham International Airport), where I was received by my Mom, Dad, and little brother, and escorted back to Greensboro…But, let’s just say, it wasn’t easy to even get to that point…

At around 9:00 Saturday morning, the whole group arrived at Barajas (Madrid’s international airport) to start the long trek back to the States…While everyone else went to their respective stations immediately, I just sat down and chilled for a bit, because my flight was leaving at 13:50 (1:50)…Or so I thought

See, by the time 11:20 rolled around, I checked the Departures list to see where exactly I needed to go to ship off my luggage and which terminal/gate I needed to be in…But looking on the screen, I noticed that there wasn’t an Iberian Airlines flight at 13:50 for JFK…Something was not right here…

So I immediately went to the baggage counter thing to ask whether there was a flight at 1:50 for New York…She checked and answered my question, giving me 3 pieces of bad news: 1) Sólo hay un vuelo a las 12:20 (There’s only a flight at 12:20); 2) El embarque para este vuelo ya está cerrado (The boarding for this flight’s closed already); 3) No tienes billete (You don’t have a ticket)…Hence, you can imagine my reaction…

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…Say what, now!?!?… Continue reading “Who Says You Can’t Go Home (Apparently Iberian Airlines)???/Reflections…”

I’ve Got My Ticket, And I’m Going To Go…

It’s strange…It seems like just yesterday that I had just gotten to Spain, so excited for all the exploration and adventure that was to come…But in less than 24 hours, I’ll be back in Greensboro, N.C. again–not in Europe, not in Spain, and not in Salamanca…

Hence, for the past few days, I’ve been trying to aprovechar (take advantage of/enjoy) what little time I have left here before I go back…

The day before last, I went to the Clerecía…Built in from 1617-1755, it was the residence/college of the Jesuits…Nowadays, it’s the Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, and it’s not strictly devoted to religious study anymore (although there’s still your fair share of theology students)…

While I had climbed to the top of the towers here the beginning of the semester, I had never actually walked through the place–and so, I took a guided tour (touristy, yes [but it was the only way I could get access to certain areas])…Unfortunately, the guide was rather rude, but other than that, it was quite enjoyable…

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Continue reading “I’ve Got My Ticket, And I’m Going To Go…”

Why Am I Here???: My Spain Story…

I bet some of you have questions: Why did I leave the U.S. in the first place?…Why did I choose to go to Spain?…Why Salamanca in particular?…Perhaps this will help to clear things up…

I think I’ve had a since of adventure ever since I was this little:

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O.K., maybe not that little–but, you know what I mean!!…Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always enjoyed traveling (esp. to amusement parks), and I’ve always wanted to go out and explore new places and meet fascinating people… Continue reading “Why Am I Here???: My Spain Story…”

Let’s Talk Food–My Favorite Spanish Eats…

During these 4 months in Spain, I’ve come to be quite acquainted with the food…Granted, I don’t think it’s as delicious as Italian vittles (my hands-down favorite [cállate, Jav Jav–¡¡hay más que pasta, dang it!!]), but I’ve still developed something of a fondness for it…Here, I expound upon my favorite dishes…

Savory Dishes

Croquetas:

Dear Lord–these things are like my own little heroin…Who would have thought that little fried masses of béchamel (a white sauce made of flour, milk, and butter) and jamón (and/or eggs, cheese, shellfish beef, veggies–what have you) could be so good!?!?

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Continue reading “Let’s Talk Food–My Favorite Spanish Eats…”

Customs: Spain Through the Eyes of a Guiri (Foreigner)…

After spending almost 4 months in Spain, I’ve made many observations about the people and way of life here…Granted, I don’t call myself an expert on all things español, but I’d like to consider myself at least somewhat knowledgeable regarding the culture–I mean, I’ve been here for a semester!!…Hence, for everyone who has never been but wants to go to España, I’ll expound upon some of the major social mores/behaviors…

Interpersonal Relations:

  • Don’t smile at everyone–In Spain (and, well, the rest of Europe) you’re walking in the street, you don’t smile at people you don’t know…You can only smile at friends/family, someone you find fetching, and babies (and let’s get real–who can resist smiling at a cute baby)–unless, of course,  you want to mark yourself as the overly-smiley American idiot…Smiling generally indicates that you have, *em*, a certain interest in someone, therefore, it can be taken the wrong way…Granted, I have had people in stores, restaurants, and the post office smile at me occasionally, but for the most part, people keep a solid poker face…It basically boils down to this:

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Continue reading “Customs: Spain Through the Eyes of a Guiri (Foreigner)…”

Betty Is A[n Indie] Punk Rocker: Sala Potemkim…

So last night, I had what’ll probably go down as the BEST night I’ve had in Salamanca–and all because I went to this place:

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Sala Potemkin!!!!…

But what makes Potemkin so special???…It’s a nice little dive bar where there’s live performances of alternative music–punk, indie, folk, blues rock, metal, you name it…I found out about it a few weeks before coming to Salamanca when I read a description of it in Lonely Planet: Spain–and for a weird indie girl like me who LOVES alt. music and subcultures, this sounded like the dopest place in townt!!…Plus, I’d never been to an intimate live show in a club before, and I’d always wanted to–therefore, I was determined to go to this place!!… Continue reading “Betty Is A[n Indie] Punk Rocker: Sala Potemkim…”

Shadow of the Past: The Impact of Franco on Modern-Day Spain…

This post is a lot heavier than any of my previous ones–mainly because it details how exactly the psycho-sociological scars of a nightmare that ended almost barely 40 years ago can still be felt here in Spain…For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the dictatorship of this man:

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…Gen. Francisco Franco… Continue reading “Shadow of the Past: The Impact of Franco on Modern-Day Spain…”

On Top of the World, At the End of the World: Galicia (Part 2)…

Sunday was a really fun day for me: I went to A Coruña, the 2nd-largest city in Galicia…

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It was a glorious day (or, at least that’s how it started out)–the Sun was out and shining, the sky was a clear Carolina blue, and all the plants around us were in bloom… Continue reading “On Top of the World, At the End of the World: Galicia (Part 2)…”

On Top of the World, At the End of the World: Galicia (Part 1)…

Hello, my lovely readers!!!!…I’m writing this to recount the fabulous time I had last weekend in the beautiful autonomous community of…

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…Galicia (procrastination may also be a major motivation for writing this, though)!!!!… Continue reading “On Top of the World, At the End of the World: Galicia (Part 1)…”

Spectacular Sevilla…

After years (no, really) of waiting, I finally made it–which is to say, I’ve finally visited Sevilla, the capital of Andalucía and the last major city here in the Dirty South…With more than 700,000 residents, it’s the 4th-most populous city in Spain, and it’s tourism sector is one of the most important in Spain…

Our first main stop was the Plaza de España…Unlike most other plazas in Spain (or Europe, period), this one was buil in the 20th century…Completed in 1929, it was built as part of the Exposición Iberoamericana held that year as a way to present Sevilla and the rest of Spain to the foreigners in attendance…One of its distinctive features are the bancos along the wall–one for each province in Spain (in alphabetical order) with the crest, map, and an image of an important historical event for each province…This way, foreigners can get to know all of Spain without leaving Sevilla!!…

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Rambling Through Ronda…

On the 5th day of our trip, we hit up Ronda, a small city of roughly 40,000 people located in the province of Málaga that has been around since Ancient Rome…

One of the reasons Ronda is important is that it’s considered to be the legitimate birthplace of tauromaquia (bullfighting)…In 1572, Felipe II founded the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Ronda (The Royal Armoury of the Calvary of Ronda), where horses were trained to be more agile and quick (in order to defend the border) through excersises in which they had to avoid bulls…Eventually, in the 18th century, there emerged the toreros (bullfighters) (who faced the bulls–without horses, of course), and the Romero family (a local family whose members were some of the most important matadores of the age) rose to prominence…

Given all these contributions to the “sport” of bullfighting, the Plaza de Toros was inaugurated in 1785…It’s the arena with the largest ruedo (floor) in the world, making it more dangerous to fight here than anywhere else–for this reason, only the best matadores can torear here…

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Glorious Granada (Part 2)…

My second day in Granada was quite eventful…After sleeping in and spending a good deal of my morning doing homework (I’m a nerd, I know), I went out for lunch with some peeps…We chose an Indian restaurant–an interesting experience, because I had never eaten Indian food before…I had some sort of prawns in a medium sauce with mushroom basmati rice–spicy, yet delicious…

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After eating, I headed off to the Catedral de Grenada…Commisioned by Carlos I (I think–dang it, where was Marta when I needed her?!?!) and constructed from 1536-1561, it has a distinct stylistic mix of the Renaissance-iness and the Baroque…It’s really, really pretty, with all the gold and paintings (including some by El Greco and Juan Ribera), and even though technically I wasn’t supposed to take photos, a lot of people were–and nobody stopped them (I figure that rule isn’t enforced)…

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Glorious Granada (Part 1)…

The third major city in our viaje is Granada, a very bustling (and touristy) city filled with sights and sounds…

In the 11th century, Granada was the capital of the reino zirí, one of the independent Islamic kingdoms that formed when the Califato (Caliphate) of Córdoba started to disintigrate…From the 13th-15th century, it was the capital of the reino nazarí, the time in which the Alhambra (which I’ll talk about in a bit) was built–and, the last reino of Al-Andalus…

Emirato de Córdoba

…Al-Andalus at its peak (when Córdoba was its capital)…

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…Grandada, the last kingdom standing…

In 1492, after many years of resistance of resistance, Granada was finally overcome by the Christian forces…Thankfully, as was the case with the Mezquita, the Alhambra was not destroyed after the city was conquered, given its artistic merit…

The Alhambra is a sort of city-palace–that’s to say, it’s a conjunction of various palaces, patios, and neighborhoods where the royal court resided…It’s name derives from the Arabic Al Qalá al-hambra, which means “red fortress”–a reference to the color of the the stone it was constructed with…

As you can see from these photos, the Alhambra has two key characteristics of Islamic architecture: a mixture of nature and architecture (e.g. the many luscious plants, the fountains with water directly from the Sierra Nevada [a nearby mountain]) and intricate decoration using simple elements (plaster and ceramic)…

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Captivating Córdoba…

Our second day was spent in Córdoba, an absolutely stunning city of approx. over 300,000 people–And boy, what a city…

Once the capital of Al-Andaluz (which was the name of the territory occupied by the Muslims from the 8th century-1492), Córdoba at the height of its splendor had over 1,000,000 people, and it was a place where the 3 major cultures of Europe (Jewish, Catholic, and Islamic) blended together and a thriving center of advancement in philosophy, the sciences, and the arts–For this reason, it was considered the most important city in Europe…

There are 3 particular places that stuck out for me–the first of which was the Capilla de San Bartolomé (Chapel of Saint Bartolomé)…

Situated in the Barrio Judío (Old Jewish Quarter) of the city, it was constructed towards the end of the 15th century after the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, in order to “Christianize” the area…It’s distinctive for it’s style–a mixture of Islamic and Gothic…

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Roman Bridges, Aqueducts, and Theatres (Oh My): Mérida…

As I’ve explained previously, the first city of our little excursion was Mérida–the capital city of the autonomous community of Extremedura…Founded in the year 25 B.C. under the name Emérita Augusta (part of the name was inspired by Augustus, the emperor who made its foundation possible), one can clearly see testaments to the extension and influence of the Roman Empire here, like…

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El Puente Romano,

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El Acueducto de los Milagros (The Aqueduct of Miracles),…

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…and, the most magnificent of them all, el Teatro Romano… Continue reading “Roman Bridges, Aqueducts, and Theatres (Oh My): Mérida…”